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Europe’s Future Combat Air System: on the Way to the First Flight

December 16, 2022

On behalf of the governments of France, Germany and Spain, the French General Directorate for Armament (DGA) has awarded to Dassault Aviation, Airbus, Indra, Eumet and their industrial partners the contract, amounting to € 3.2 billion, for the Demonstrator Phase 1B of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The contract will cover work on the FCAS demonstrator and its components for about three and a half years.

This contract notification comes on the heels of the signature of the industrial agreements supporting the demonstrator Phase 1B by Airbus, Dassault Aviation, Indra and Eumet as prime contractors of the programme and by their industrial partners from the three nations. Discussions held over the last months have enabled the creation of a solid basis for cooperation between industry and the three governments.

This continues the successful Phase 1A demonstrators’ related R&T work and development activities, which enabled the identification of key technologies and the launch of the demonstrators' developments. Paving the way for the development phase of the programme, this demonstration phase 1B will allow continuation of flying demonstrators and required cutting-edge technologies development and maturation as well as project architectures consolidation, with in-flight demonstrations targeted in the next phases by 2028-2029.

The programme is made up of a set of systems: New Generation Fighters teaming with Remote Carriers and connected through a Combat Cloud. In order to meet the ambitions and challenges of such a programme, an adapted and efficient industrial organisation has been set-up and built around technological pillars. Each pillar is under the leadership of an industrial champion acting as prime, working in close cooperation with its main partners and leveraging each nation’s aeronautical industrial ecosystems.

In addition to their prime role per pillar, Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Indra act as national coordinators to ensure the overall coherence of the demonstrators and the overall programme’s steering and work consolidation.

The industrial governance of the Phase 1B is organised per domain as follows:

  • NGWS Consistency, Demonstrations and Consolidation with Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Indra Sistemas as co-contracting partners
  • New Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation for France as prime contractor, and Airbus as main partner for Germany and Spain
  • NGF Engine with the 50/50 Joint Venture Eumet -between Safran Aircraft Engines for France and MTU Aero Engines for Germany- as prime contractor and ITP Aero for Spain as main partner
  • Unmanned systems, Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus for Germany as prime contractor, MBDA for France and Satnus for Spain as main partners
  • Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus for Germany as prime contractor, Thales for France and Indra Sistemas for Spain as main partners
  • Simulation with Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Indra Sistemas as co-contracting partners
  • Sensors with Indra Sistemas as prime for Spain, and Thales for France and FCMS for Germany as main partners
  • Enhanced Low Observability (stealth) with Airbus as prime contractor for Spain, Dassault Aviation for France and Airbus for Germany as main partners
  • Common Working Environment with Airbus, Dassault Aviation, Indra Sistemas and Eumet as co-contracting partners